When will it end? When will the memories stop coming? How? How do I get through one day where I am not constantly reminded of the horrible crime that was forced upon me? “Get over it”; this is what I try to tell myself but to no avail. I know it must be difficult for others to understand why, after 24 years, would I still want to even talk about my abuse. I do not enjoy sharing my story, I wish I did not have such a story to tell. I do not like the lack of control that I have over the thoughts that creep into my mind. I do not like the fact that washing my dishes trigger memories of my abuse because my grandfather would approach me from behind to hug me, while slowly slipping his hand down my shirt through the collar. When I told my grandfather to stop touching me, I was washing the dishes and never forgot the look of terror on his face because for the first time in 6 years I actually said “no”. I do not like that I am triggered every day by activities that should be normal or enjoyable. Taking a shower should be a simple task, yet no one would know that stepping in a bathtub is a process for me. I literally have to be consciously aware of how I stand under the shower. If I turn to face the shower and the water hits my breasts, I become numb instantly. Why is this a trigger? While my grandfather was touching me, I would go numb and find something to focus on until he was done. In the first two years he did a great deal of touching and feeling; my breasts were his first choice of touch. I have tried so hard to expose myself and face the shower but find out quickly that it was a mistake. Its a mistake because the numbness sets in and stays there for a day or two. It is the worst feeling ever. It is the feeling that prompts me to try to “feel” again. So I find myself eating late at night as a form of comfort; or I wrap myself in my blanket and want to stay there until the numbness goes away.
I wish I could stop talking about this; I wish it would go away; I wish I did not have to work so hard at feeling better. I wish I could enjoy my little girl without having the fear of that she is in some form of danger when she is around any male figure. Two years from now when my daughter turns 8 years old, it will be a trigger because that was the age I was when my ordeal began. So here I am two years prior, preparing myself for what might hit me two years from now. My birthday was on January the 6th and my grandfather’s birthday is on the 8th. I have never been able to enjoy my birthday without thinking about his birthday as well. I think about how much he would use our birthdays as a way to convince me that “we were meant to be close”. I spent so much time with my grandfather doing regular everyday things that everyday I am haunted by something that reminds me of him.
In my last post, I talked about Dylan Farrow who was triggered by the idea that her father was going to receive a lifetime achievement award. Every time she sees his face on t.v., she is triggered; and it gets worse when you have to watch everyone talk about him like “he’s the cat’s meow” it irritates her because she knows who he really is. He gets to live and move on while she struggles to live a normal life everyday. It reminds me of being at my grandfather’s funeral listening to people talk about him. Everything was said except the truth; that he was a pedophile who preyed on young girls and got away with every time he violated them. He died and my family buried the truth with him. But I cannot bury it because as long as I am alive the pain will be alive. I have accepted that since the pain and hurt does not go away, I must learn to live with it, manage it and not allow it to destroy me. It is like having a disease and finding out that there is no cure….you take care of yourself and do whatever it takes to be better.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very real and when you have it, others tend to feel that it becomes an excuse to be the way you are. I use to hear about this disorder and think nothing of it. I thought it only affected soldiers who went to war. When I began to show signs of PTSD, I went in denial for a couple of years but then the symptoms kept getting worse and I could not deny it anymore. I did not want to be “that girl”; I did not want to be weak or show weakness. But when you feel that you are loosing your mind and that you would sooner “off yourself” than to continue in this nightmare, it is time to get help. So I attend therapy every week and I share my journey towards healing. Sharing my story and the process of healing helps me to feel better. I imagine Dylan Farrow wants to feel better too. But more importantly, we just want to be heard. Yes, it may seem as if we are throwing a tantrum, but for some reason no one heard our cries for help when we were kids; so forgive us for crying and asking for help as adults. So the next time you find yourself saying “ouch!”, tell yourself to “get over it” and see how well that works for you.